Last week, I wrote that if you are a Christian, you must embrace Ayn Rand’s economic philosophy (capitalism). Today, I will explore this further.
To recap, philosophers who came before Christ (think Aristotle), philosophers who rejected Christ (think Rand) and philosophers who accepted Christ (think Thomas Aquinas) concur that human laws must stem from natural law, which stems from reason. Said differently, all rational thinkers embrace natural law. Capitalism is the most rational political system and therefore the best political expression of natural law, so rational Christians and non- Christians must be capitalists.
What exactly does it mean to live a capitalist lifestyle? To Rand, being a capitalist means being "selfish" and abhorring “self-sacrifice.” I believe this is compatible with Christianity.
Most people define “selfish” as greed; certain celebrities come to mind as examples of people who act like the world owes them superior treatment for inferior behavior (think Lindsay Lohan leaving a jewelry store without paying for the necklace around her neck). This is not how Rand defines selfish.
For Rand, a selfish person lives morally, independently and pursues happiness. By caring for himself, he is philanthropic (benefits society) without trying. He capitalizes on his unique talents. He produces a good or service that society needs at a competitive price. He selfishly saves his money via wise investments, thereby making capital available for new businesses and creating jobs. I think Christians and non-Christians should embrace this idea of selfishness. Happiness
Rand believes the goal of life is happiness. In her magnum opus novel, Atlas Shrugged, the hero, John Galt, says: “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.”
How would it even be possible to achieve happiness without making decisions that are in one’s own best interest? Said differently, what is the rational alternative to being selfish? There does not appear to be one.
Certainly, it can sometimes be challenging to determine one’s best interest. Rand herself seemed to struggle to achieve earthly happiness. In an open marriage, her lover betrayed her. She suffered from severe depression. And she sustained her long working hours through heavy smoking and stimulants.